BARNSLEY skipper Stephen Foster says the arrival of four new signings at Oakwell has intensified competition for first-team places.

The former Crewe and Burnley defender, back after a hernia operation, says: "Competition for places means the squad looks a lot healthier now.

"The gaffer has got options. It's a few nice headaches for him to have.

"You know you've got to train hard in the week and impress in training. And then if you don't perform well in a match your place could be up for grabs later."

A run of four league defeats was followed by a 1-0 South Yorkshire derby win over Sheffield Wednesday.

And while they only drew with Charlton, the four points from two games will help keep the Reds away from the wrong end of the table, says Foster.

"We've found ourselves near the bottom of the table a few times, but we should pull ourselves clear of trouble," added the 28-year-old.

"Iif we win our games in hand we know we can push up the table.

"It's a difficult league. At the back of our minds we've got to be aware that if we don't go out there and perform we'll go on another run where we've not picked up as many points as we should have.

"We've got to concentrate and be full of confidence. If we play anything like we did against Sheffield Wednesday then we can beat anyone in this league.

"Who'd have thought a big club like Charlton would be bottom of the table at this stage of the season?"

And having spent an unwanted spell on the sidelines Foster admits he finds it hard not to play any part in the action.

"It's not good when the team aren't doing well and you have to watch from the sidelines, knowing you can't help is frustrating.

"But I knew that I wouldn't have been doing the team any favours playing when I was in pain. I had to have an operation, which means I'm hopefully back now for the rest of the season."

Sheffield Star, 25 February 2009
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Ian Wilkinson

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